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Monday, July 01, 2013

Funkytown With A Little Crazy Baking Thrown In

What a nutso weekend. Lots of stress, lots of fun.

This past weekend we found out my friend's mom is in ICU and unresponsive (nonresponsive?). She's not doing well at all so we're praying for her and trying to support our friend.

We also found out my mother was in fact diagnosed with stage one cancer and will be meeting with her team soon to nail down a surgery date and follow-up treatment. (I do not feel old enough to deal with this.) This also means our family dynamics continue.

CC's got some work stuff going on, other stuff is going on, and it's just been a crazy weekend. So of course I channeled all of that into baking this weekend, as promised.

I ended up spending every free minute baking and cleaning the kitchen umpteen thousand times. I made a total of four batches of macarons, none of which came out right. I will say since I can follow a recipe pretty well, each batch tasted REALLY yummy. The texture is what's so difficult to get right, which is why I'm not giving up. Seriously nobody makes these anywhere in the Triangle which is a problem to me. This is the only reason I've gone bonkers trying to make them. Feel free to send help, therapy sessions, whatever.

I started with the two recipes I mentioned last week- one from the Everyday Food blog (aka Martha herself) and another that CC found and wanted me to try. There are hundreds of recipes to choose from, so since I had to start somewhere, I went with these two. If I can't find success with these I might try another one.

The first thing is you can't just spontaneously throw a batch of these together. You need to use 'old' eggs and leave them out overnight to get to true room temperature.

Eggy eggy eggs!
Then I spent all of Friday morning driving all over creation trying to find almond flour that wasn't $12 a pound. A lot of people grind their own in the food processor but I was attempting to take the lazy girl's way out. Pfft.
This better be worth it!
As Ina would say, you want to use the 'GOOD' vanilla. Seriously, this stuff is pretty amazing. Someone gave this to us as a Christmas gift last year and we'll never go back to the basic stuff. Even Hubby likes it a lot and he's not a vanilla extract fan, so that's saying something.
The good stuff.
So the first batch was made, using the Everyday Food recipe. CC was suitably impressed. (He's a good man, that guy. Look how impressed he is.)
Ooh la la!
Tasting...
The first batch tasted amazing but the texture was way too chewy. Chewiness apparently is a result of overmixing/underbaking. Hubby thought it tasted like a REALLY good sugar cookie.
First batch- plain almond macaron with vanilla buttercream filling
I'm way into the colors and different flavors, so the second batch we did was pistachio. Yummy! Still good but since I'd tried a different recipe (Hubby's choice), they resulted in overbaked crunchy macarons. Not a good thing.
See the air pockets? That's very bad. We just threw these away.
Yesterday afternoon I yet again attempted pistachio, but using the original recipe. Better success but still a chewy interior. I didn't add as much green color to these, which is why they're kind of brownish. Boo. I overbaked these thinking that might help with the texture. Nope. These were crunchy and overdone for sure. Still tasty though.
Pretty and tasty, but I can't seem to nail the texture
The fourth and last batch I've made so far I'm calling chocolate vanilla. I used the same recipe which calls for that good vanilla extract, but I added 3 Tbsp. of cocoa powder to the batter. I also used Hubby's vanilla buttercream for the filling. OH MY WORD, these are delicious! The texture's still not right as far as the perfect Parisian macaron, but these are so yummy! These I underbaked to see if that would help the texture. The texture was better but still chewy. I also undermixed them, so they aren't nearly as pretty and picture-ready as the other batches were. There's a fine line between undermixing and overmixing, apparently.
Tastes like fudge pie!
In the end, I'm not done- I'm taking a break for a couple days to rest up and clean the apartment before we go out of town. I'm off Wednesday though so I'm hoping to try again then. We'll see. I found maple extract in the pantry and would love to make some maple pecan ones to see how they turn out.

The saving graces here are that they're still delicious even if they're wrong, and Hubby's being VERY supportive while I work this out. It's sweet when your hubby supports your obsession! And has he ever been supportive! All the buttercream fillings you see here were handmade by CC- we found out he's got superskillz when it comes to buttercream. His pistachio is especially delicious!

I'll keep you posted on how this turns out! For more photos, check out #thegreatmacaronexperimentof2013 on Instagram. I've been photobombing my feed with this experiment all weekend. I feel bad for my poor friends who have to scroll past them all, but I'm having fun so it continues.

Pistachio and chocolate macaron test batches going to work!

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